“My 21-month-old son still isn’t talking! He seems intelligent in all other ways and has met and exceeded other milestones I read about. I read to him, talk to him all the time, and try different strategies, but nothing seems to work. He’ll say dog and point to the screen and has said a word here or there with much coaxing, but that’s it. His way of communicating is to point and his hearing seems perfect. What else can I do before having him evaluated for speech therapy?”
You seem to be doing all you can do. So, now it is time to get him evaluated by a pediatric speech therapist. Most kids this age have a vocabulary of 50 words (some will have over 100) and while I have had many, many toddlers like this turn out to be just “late talkers”, it is important to rule out more serious developmental problems – a good speech therapist is a good place to start. She (or he) can help decide if there is anything to worry about. In the meantime, here are some things parents can do to help their children develop language skills:
- Read books and sing songs to your child on a daily basis, beginning in infancy.
- Introduce new vocabulary in a meaningful context, e.g., name specific foods at dinnertime.
- Speak directly to your child, and give him/her time to respond.
- Don’t use baby language.
- Avoid finishing sentences for the child.